Once a Wolves Academy player reaches under-18 level they are taken under the wing of their ‘Wolves mum’ – Academy Operations Administrator Lisa Hollis.
Since arriving at Compton Park 18 months ago, Lisa has played a pivotal role in making sure the lives of the oldest members of the Wolves Academy off the pitch are as easy as possible.
But it’s not just about helping the players in the under-18s and under-23s become good footballers – she is also tasked with making sure the Wolves stars of the future leave the Academy as upstanding members of society.
“I look after the players themselves,” Lisa said. “Which could be anything from player travel and overnight fixture arrangements to opposition and pre-match meals, to their day to day stuff – getting them in and out of work, helping them with moving into accommodation, looking after international duty arrangements, all the player care kind of stuff, helping them get cars, insurance, their bills at home.”
“I’m like their Wolves mum,” she added. “But my main role is to make their lives easier. Everything we do has to have their player at the heart of it as we develop the person as well as the player here, in line with the Wolves values – keeping players humble as people, is fundamental to my work.
“It is always about giving the player what is best for them and making them as happy as possible off-field – if they’re happy at home, they’ll be happy here.”
Lisa also plays a large role in assigning players to their host families who the youngsters live with during their time at the club.
“We’ve probably got between 15 to 20 host families in the Wolverhampton area who provide the board and lodgings for our players. Most of them have been with us a while and have formed that kind of triangular support mechanism.
“There’s us at the club, the parents and then the host family, so communication between the three of us is quite central and pivotal to supporting the player on an ongoing basis. They are vital to the work we do here and play the role of a third mum and dad.
“Aside from that, the bit that I can do to prepare them for professional football is how they make that jump into first team football. As an administrator I can’t do much on the field work with them, but what I can do is try to make sure their off-field life is running smoothly and is as seamless as possible.
“The quicker I can get them comfortable, the happier everyone will be.”
Lisa continues to be involved with the players, even when they reach they want to take a more independent role in their lives.
She is also made a proud ‘mum’ when the Academy players make their break into the first team set-up – one of those was Ryan Giles, who was named on the bench for Friday night’s match at Cardiff City.
Lisa added: “I was so happy for Ryan and proud of what he has done. It’s such an opportunity for him and as an Academy team it makes us all very proud.
“The players who do break into the first team are always very grateful to the Academy for the support that they had to help get them there.
“It’s amazing that you’ve played a little part in their journey.”
This article first appeared in the Wolves versus Chelsea matchday programme, which is available around Molineux on matchdays for just £3.50, and also featured content with Ruben Neves, Rui Patricio, and Elliot Bennett. Back issues are available in the Molineux Megastore and online now.